Says Glenn Reynolds :
This is old news, though. Even back in the 1960s there were Civil Defense debates on whether to give warning in case of an attack, based on studies that showed more people would be sheltered by where they happened to be than would benefit from a warning, since many people would immediately either try to flee, or to return to their homes, winding up in more exposed positions when the bomb went off. And although heavily mocked by antinuclear activists in the 1980s, the duck-and-cover advice from the 1950s was pretty good, considering, and would have saved many lives if it had been followed in the event of a nuclear attack.
I hadn’t thought of this before, but I wonder if this “fatalism” he refers to wasn’t intentional. If surviving a nuclear war is actually fairly straightforward, why cultivate such a deep sense of futility about even trying? Why cut funding for Civil Defense, why ridicule “duck and cover”, and why make demoralizing movies like Testament or The Day After?
Well, if you own a giant stockpile of nuclear weapons, whose effects (while horrible) could be mitigated to some useful degree by simple sheltering methods if those methods were widely known and ready-to-implement, wouldn’t you want to head-fake the enemy into not protecting themselves by convincing them of the uselessness of even minimal preparedness?
Once again, it would seem that the anti-nuclear and anti-war movements of the 1960s and 1970s may have been dupes.